“Authority in the Book of Mosiah”: Not Quite Entirely Irrelevant to Fathers Day


A little known actual color photograph of King Henry V at Agincourt.
(Color photography was quite uncommon in the early 1400s.)


I published a piece quite a few years ago that I’m still rather fond of, though nobody else seems to be.  Toward the end of it, I analyze King Mosiah’s appeal to the Nephites to put an end to monarchy.


His remarks have often been portrayed as an embarrassingly anachronistic effect of Joseph Smith’s immediately-post-colonial Americanism.  Citizens of the new American republic had declared their independence from King George III less than three decades earlier when Joseph was born in 1805, so the abolition of Nephite kingship is all-too-obviously a sign of the political attitudes of the Yankee culture that produced it.


In my essay, though, I read King Mosiah’s remarks quite differently.  He seems to me not to be concerned with “democracy,” but, rather, with the welfare of his son’s soul.  This is a very, very different argument against monarch.  It reflects Mosiah’s care, as a father, for his child.


So, you see, mentioning this article really isn’t such a stretch on Fathers Day.



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  • kiwi57

    Do you have a link?

  • RaymondSwenson

    Israel did not have a king until Saul, and it was only over the objections of the prophet Samuel. The dynasty of Mosiah II only went back to Mosiah I who was primarily a prophet leader of a refugee group of Nephites who encountered the Zarahemla community of people who had fled Jerusalem. Benjamin did not tax the people for his support, so he was an atypical king in any case. The recurring appearance of advocates for monarchy among the amalgamated Nephite nation clearly saw the kingship as a center of power in opposition to the prophetic authority. Mosiah II had earlier devolved the prophetic authority onto Alma I to separate it from the kingship, decentralizing his power. Mosiah II was a seer who read the Jaredite record and understood the evils of not just kings, but contesting kings that destroyed their nation, and wanted to avoid setting up his sons for that kind of civil war. He also had the brass plates with Old Testament histories of the kings who divided Israel and then led the Northern and Southern kingdoms to destruction and captivity, affirmed by the “Mulekites”. He learned the history of the Nephites who had returned to the city of Nephi and the misery caused by King Noah. Knowing more than anyone else in his kingdom the corrupting influence of kingly power, from all those sources, why shouldn’t he be interested in dissolving a system that corrupted its best leaders and led to so much violence?